Education Celebrations: The Heartbeats place at international competition

By Diane Boyett
June 29, 2014 at 1:29 a.m.

The 12 members of the VISD Future Problem Solvers team are back home in Texas with fun stories after their adventures in Ames, Iowa, at the International Problem Solvers Competition.

They placed fourth in the competition.

Our students were able to meet with other students from 40 states and countries in the event that had more than 1,000 participants.

The team, which includes students from Stroman Middle School and two members from Victoria East High School, received a special invitation to the international competition after placing first in the state Community Problem Solving competition.

Teacher and coach Holly McCutcheon sponsors the group known as The HeartBeats. The team was formed in response to a Future Problem Solvers question of how to make their community healthier.

The team members opted to focus on heart health, conducting extensive research and presenting their findings to faculty and staff at Stroman Middle School. But these bright students did not stop at research. They also brainstormed ways to encourage healthy lifestyles and set out to be motivators for the school.

In addition to providing healthy snacks for teachers, the students also calculated that 12 trips around the campus equaled 1 mile of walking. That prompted the students to strongly encourage their teachers to take walks around the campus. Student Rico Ramos noted there were a number of teachers who made the walking trips a daily event.

The students went to elementary campuses to share information and do physical activities. They prepared posters, sponsored dances and even sponsored a Zumbathon for adults in support of their efforts to promote heart health.

After preparing a presentation board for their project, the students geared up for judging interviews. McCutcheon anxiously awaited the student's report. Team member John Sanchez emerged with a grin, exclaiming the students got the judges to dance with them. The students had the judges doing the Hokey Pokey in the display hall. In the end, the students earned a fourth-place finish in the international competition.

In addition to the work in preparing for the competition, the students were able to tour the university, do some sightseeing and even take to an amphitheater stage for an impromptu performance for some children playing nearby.

Congratulations to team members Rico Ramos, Hannah Gutierrez, Alexis Whitt, Joseph Johnson, Chloe Vivian, Tiva Wallace, Jonathan Oviedo, Nadine Sanchez, Monica Monroe and Zac Ferran from Stroman Middle School as well as John Sanchez and Ashley Ruiz of Victoria East High School.

The HeartBeats extend thanks to sponsors Citizens Health Center, VISD and the board of trustees, AEP, Caterpillar, Torin Bales, Invista, McDonald's, Days Gone By, Regional Steel Products Inc., GE, Roto Versal, Stewart Title, Middleton Advertising, Chick-fil-A, Buffalo Wild Wings, Brannan Paving Company, Rep. Geanie Morrison, Dr. Frederick Lykes, Martha Baker, Marion and Linda Green, Mr. and Mrs. William Bryant, Javiel and Rosalinda Morales, Telferner Grocery, Martin Aguayo, A and A Bail Bonds, KRD Pumping Services, Mr. and Mrs. Max Licon Jr., Chris and Vanessa Martinez, Sonny and Gloria DeLeon, John Crews, Stone Trucking, Sylvia Johnston, Stroman Hip Hop, Gluten Freedom Bakery and Jamie Ruiz.

Special thanks are due to Randy Vivian, Future Problem Solvers parent and president of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, who was instrumental in securing the donations for the trip.

The entire community owns this celebration.

Diane Boyett is the communications director for Victoria school district. Contact her at



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